BOMBO – The Management of Bombo Military Barracks has decreed that any ambulances brand-named with the various Members of Parliament – MPs posters will not be allowed access to its hospital facility.
The move has since attracted criticism from a section of the Luweero district leadership.
Bombo Barracks houses a Military General hospital that offers treatment to both soldiers and civilians, who constitute over 70% of the patients treated at the facility, according to records.
As one of the avenues of assisting communities to access this particular health facility, some MPs from Luwero district bought ambulances –branding the same vehicles with posters inscribed with their desired political affiliations, in addition to National Unity Platform – NUP party president Robert Kyagulanyi.
Patients, who use such ambulances, are only required to pay for fuel but the Bombo Barracks order was likely to cause complications in the transportation of patients.
Moses Ssebalamu the LCIII Chairperson of Wobulenzi Town Council revealed in an interview that the absence of enough government ambulances was the main reason the patients were using the MPs’ donated vehicle in evacuations.
Ssebalamu confirmed that more than often ‘political’ ambulances are stopped at the barrack’s checkpoint, where patients are ordered to either walk or be carried on a stretcher to a hospital facility, which is located about three kilometres, away.
Ssebalamu disclosed that he had, on at least four patients on different occasions, personally assisted in evacuating patients using MPs’ ambulances who were denied entrance beyond the checkpoint.
Hassan Kirumira Lukaalidde – the Katikamu South MP, who owns such as a vehicle said branding it with his posters shouldn’t have been an issue for the barracks authority to deny it access – leaving expectant mothers and ill-health people to cover the reminding distance on foot.
Lt Col Chris Magezi, the Spokesperson of Land Forces confirmed the barracks’ stand, saying that only ambulances clearly marked as per the Ministry of Health’s recommendations and identified by soldiers manning the checkpoints are allowed to move up to the hospital.
Magezi noted Military installations are sensitive to political messages because it’s nonpartisan and soldiers may fail to clearly identify ambulances if they are branded with MPs posters.
“But we can’t allow any politicking in military installation either overt or subtle. My advice to MPs is let the ambulances be like ambulances, not political vans or billboards,” he advised.
Alice Kaboyo, the State Minister for Luweero-Rwenzori Triangle was however quick to condemned MPs who brand the ambulances with their posters, saying it’s a lowly act. He vowed to compel MPs to remove the posters.
In 2014, the Ministry of Health established the Uganda National Ambulance Service – UNAS to address the need for emergency pre-hospital care in Uganda. The government promised to operationalize the service beginning in 2019/2020 and Luweero hospital was earmarked as a centre to host the service. To date the hospital is yet to receive the ambulances to operationalize the service.
Additional reporting by URN